Art on demolished Brooklyn Heights Library facade has found a new home

Art Re-Start

Art on demolished Brooklyn Heights Library facade has found a new home

The Brooklyn Heights Library main entrance sported six bas-reliefs on its limestone facade before demolition. (Ehblake/Wikimedia Commons)

The art on the facade of the Brooklyn Heights Library has found a new home.

Back in 2017, the old library building, a squat structure from the early 1960s that exuded WPA vibes, was demolished to make way for a luxury condo tower designed by New York’s Marvel Architects. While the building itself wasn’t much to look at, the art on its facade was most certainly was: six bas-reliefs by Italian sculptor Clemente Spampinato that playfully depicted industry and businesses; crafts; sciencesknowledge; literature; and arts.

triangular tower against a darkening night sky
Aerial rendering of One Clinton at dusk. (Courtesy Marvel Architects)

A BPL spokesperson confirmed over email that, per the original announcement, two of the six 10-by-11-foot panels will adorn a meeting room in the new library, which is slated to open in fall 2020. The other four panels will be the spolia in a to-be-planted garden outside the Walt Whitman Library, which is about a mile’s walk from the branch in Brooklyn Heights at 280 Cadman Plaza West (or One Clinton, per the condo’s branding).

ground floor library on first floor of building at dusk
Rendering of the new library within Marvel Architects’ One Clinton. (Marvel Architects)

The new 26,600-square-foot Brooklyn Heights library space will sit within the Marvel Architects-designed building. The old library’s demolition is part of a $300 million capital repair campaign that the Brooklyn Public Library estimates will generate $40 million in revenue for major repairs at other branches. There’s certainly plenty of value locked into the building: At press time, a 900-square-foot one-bedroom was listed at $1.2 million, while the cheapest three-bedroom, a 2,000-square-foot 2.5 bath unit, is going for $3.1 million.

A black and white photo of WPA-esque bas reliefs on the front of a library
The then–recently-completed Brooklyn Heights Public Library in the 1960s (Image courtesy Redwood Gallery)